When it comes to tutoring, identifying your student’s learning styles matter tremendously. At the start of tutoring session, it is important to help their students become aware of their own learning preferences in order to grasp the material, and better to understand the concepts, main ideas, and key points. Reciprocally, tutors can tailor their instructional strategies to the student’s learning styles, while demonstrating how to use specific inventories that would help guide and focus student’s learning style in each session. There are common traits and approaches to understanding these styles effectively and tips for working with each learning style.
For visual learners, students can be shown how information or material can aid in the learning preference. These students prefer to use picture of something being described, prefer illustrations with printed content, and use maps, charts, flashcards, notes, and videos to remember the material. There are helpful ways tutors can identify visual learners. They often like written instructions, studies by reading over notes, uses visual descriptors by stating “I see…,” and enjoys visual representation through graphics and pictures. So, when working with visual learners, encourage the student to use flashcards, graphs and pictures regularly. Use white boards, color markers and pencils, and use prompts to encourage students to explain what they “see,” or have them demonstrate their process of thinking by using Thinking Maps, if they are familiar with this tool.
As for visual learners, these students need to hear the information to support their learning process. They often remember what they hear and how a material or concept is verbally expressed. They are often used to talking out loud and recall information through verbal repetition. They mostly benefit from group discussions and talking with others to examine, understand, or explain information. To identify auditory learners, tutors can observe if they learn well with recordings, lectures and verbal discussions. They often use auditory descriptors in conversations by stating “I hear…” Therefore, tutors can effectively help these students with this specific learning style by encouraging them to talk through the concept, ask them to verbally explain how they understand the problem and explain how they arrive at the answer. Also, students who paraphrase or put in their own words what a tutor explained can shed light to their overall understanding of the material being taught.
On the other hand, some of the common traits of tactile or kinesthetic learners include learning best by “touching” or “manipulating” information or the materials. They become more engaged as active participant if they are given opportunity to have hands-on interactions with the subject being studied. One of the advantages of tactile learners is their ability to remember and understand through action. I find that most students who possess these qualities also learn very well through process of writing their own notes and engage in repetitious actions, such as writing drills. To identify kinesthetic learners, tutors can observe how they build knowledge and physically handle learning materials. Oftentimes, these students enjoy working on computers and projects that are labeled “hands-on” activities. Tangible objects and materials serve as useful tools and information for these learners. So, I suggest when working with the students to have them write out problems to articulate their though process, especially in math. Prompt the students to “show” you how they got the answer.
In other words, understanding and becoming aware of your student’s learning styles can reveal your student’s learning preferences, lead to effective development of tutoring strategies, as well as lead to successful learning outcome. For tutors who want to get to know your student well, this valuable approach would be most helpful and give you and your student an edge to attaining better results down the road.